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The Battle with Corona Virus:

Paper No. 6564              Dated 19-April-2020
BY Kazi Anwarul Masud:( Former Secretary and Ambassador of Bangladesh:)
 
Best brains of the world are yet to tell us when the world will be
free from scourge of Covit-19. But the leaders and highly prized
intellectuals are already worried if the institutions created in post-
second world war and after the fall of the Berlin Wall would
remain intact or even with modification will be recognizable to the
global populace who had become used to deal in a certain
regulated manner. 
 
Will Joseph Nye’s End of History will be 
considered an illusion and Robert Kagan’s The Return of History
will be taken more seriously than before. Will Samuel
Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, vilified by so many, will be put
on a pedestal by populists, sectarian minded and majoritarian
theocrats as a panacea for the removal of the evils of the world.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal Henry Kissinger predicted that
The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World
Order. He also advised that the world’s democracies need to
defend and sustain their Enlightenment values. A global retreat
from balancing power with legitimacy will cause the social
contract to disintegrate both domestically and internationally. Yet
this millennial issue of legitimacy and power cannot be settled
simultaneously with the effort to overcome the Covid-19 plague.
 
Already the Chinese are portraying their success in plateauing the
Covit-19 curve by following strict lockdown of When province-the
origin of the pandemic- which in democratic countries would be
characterized as draconian. But then to many who are dead,
identified “positive” and living in seclusion and others in lockdown
conditions may not be enamored by the by the institutions to
which they can appeal if the measures imposed by the authorities
appear burdensome. In Hungary Oban’s power to rule by decree,
Marine Le Penn’s Front National’s expansion in votes coupled
with Germany’s Alternative for Germany(AFD) and the Dutch far
right Party for Freedom in 2010 General Elections won 24 seats
making it the third largest party in the country. Another new right
wing Dutch political party-FVD--t shocked the establishment,
winning the most votes of any party nation-wide in the March 20
2019 elections by becoming the largest in several provincial
legislatures.
 
 Dutch voters, wrote The Economist, whose Hegel
was shaky turned to Google to work out what the Eurosceptic,
climate-change-skeptic foe of immigration was on about, and
concluded that he was proclaiming the election a dialectical shift
in Dutch history.- Nobel Laureate Joseph Stieglitz writing on
internationalizing the Coronavirus crisis has warned that the
developing and emerging economies will be ravaged far more by the
pandemic than the advanced economies have been. After all,
people in lower-income countries tend to live in closer proximity to
one another. A higher share of the population suffers from pre-
existing health problems that render them more vulnerable to the
disease. And these countries’ health systems are even less
prepared to manage an epidemic than those of the advanced
economies (which have hardly functioned smoothly). He adds
“When people are living hand to mouth in the absence of
adequate social protections, a loss of income could mean
starvation. Yet these countries cannot replicate the US response,
which features (so far) a $2 trillion economic package that will
blow up the fiscal deficit by some 10% of GDP (on top of a pre-
pandemic deficit of 5%)”. The world was never fair to all of its
inhabitants. In the 15 th to early 20 th century the European countries
through force colonized Latin America, Africa, most of Asia
primarily the Indian sub-continent and carried on most brutal
extraction of resources from the colonized countries and shipped
the resources to the metropolis. While this large scale stealing
was going on the colonizers took over the mantle of being more
“civilized” than those they held in bondage. Today’s Covit-19
however does not distinguish between the rich and the poor as
the death tolls in the US, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France
and several other industrialized countries bear testimony. 
 
One however should not take pleasure from the death and destruction
wrought because it is a fight for survival of humanity. No finger
pointing will serve any good result or spare some at the expense
of others. We have to remind ourselves that we might have
entered Orwellian Nine teen Eighty Four or his Animal Farm or
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World or Margaret Atwood’s
Handmaid’s Tale. Is it too late to heed Stephen Hawkins’ warning
that stupidity and greed will end the human race. Hawkins had
also warned us of air pollution which was getting worse by the
day. He had advised that a back-up planet was maybe the only
way to save ourselves. Hawking warned the people against
pursuing artificial intelligence as it was the wrong time for the
pursuit. He feared that people were being exposed to machines
all the time, and these machines were becoming more and more
intelligent on one hand, and people more and more stupid on the
other. So, the machines control people, and not the other way
around as it should be. A replay of the Planet of the Apes.
 
 One may wonder whether corona virus was manufactured by us and
somehow the virus escaped the confines of the laboratory. Be it
as it may be given the projection that half of the global population
may enter the camp of poverty, that in the US alone
unemployment may touch more than forty percent mark, that
trade may be lost by one third, that the world may enter a period
of depression more horrific than the Great Depression of the
Thirties. If the financial and political institutions are destroyed, if
monetary and fiscal stimulus do not work as intended, if religious
differences come to the forefront as the guideline on social
distancing is being challenged by orthodox elements in some
religions due to the ignorance of the “religion teachers”. 
 
Despite the dystopian darkness seem probable it becomes impossible
that the human race that conquered both the land and the space
is going to be annihilated by as yet an unknown virus. Today or
tomorrow we shall win the battle.
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